On writing in a landscape of ever changing technologies

A recent DotNetRocks podcast touched on the issue of technical blog content becoming outdated or obsolete. Technologies and trends change, and sometimes content becomes outdated, superseded or irrelevant – as writers, what can we do to help readers find what they need, and work out its relevance?

The podcast mentioned the extreme case of authors taking time to regularly audit and remove outdated content. I can’t see this happening – blog writers put a lot of their own time into writing content, and and adding extra administrative tasks as overhead on top of that really isn’t practical. But there’s some simple stuff we can all do to make it easier on our readers.

Make your publish dates easily visible. This one’s pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how often the date of an article or post can be hard to spot.

Be specific and clear about the technology versions you’re using. Rather than “Visual Studio”, mention the exact version you’re using – and do that for all the technologies you mention in a post. I’m thinking about having a summary paragraph up in the front of any reasonable sized post that summarises and mentions all the technologies and their exact versions, so that it’s easy to see up front what’s being used in your post.

If you write a related or superseding post, go back and link to it in your original writing. When you write your latest post, you’ll probably remember “Hey I wrote a similar post 3 years ago!” – so go back and update, include a link. Done.

Anything else? The items are above were the ones that came immediately to mind - got something to add?

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Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:34 PM |

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